Before they exited the TARDIS, Isabelle insisted that they
wear period clothes after arriving in 1542 and King Henry VIII nearly had her
beheaded for dressing inappropriately.
This time they were in British colonies in 1775. The American Revolution was just heating up. Isabelle wanted to make sure they were both dressed the part. She had laid his clothes out in his room on his chair. The Doctor was assisting her with her stays as she held onto her bed post for stability.
"Not too tight. I want to be able to breathe," she said breathlessly. He loosened them a bit.
"How's that?" he asked her.
"Perfect," she answered and turned around to face him. She had on a shift, stays, stocking, and her shoes. The rest of the items she felt she could don herself. "Now, go get dressed. Your clothes are in your room."
"All right," he said but chanced one last glance at her before leaving. She had not noticed. She was busying trying to sort out the rest of her clothes when he left.
Isabelle tied on the panniers, then put the petticoat over that. By that time, the Doctor had come barging back into her room.
"I'm not wearing this," he said with his clothes in hand and dropped them on her bed.
"Oh, yes, you are," she said sternly. "Here, help me pin this dress into place and then you are getting dressed."
He grimaced but moved towards her.
Isabelle slipped her arms into the sleeves of the dress, then pulled the stomacher across her chest. The Doctor stepped up to pin it in place as she held it taut. They were comfortable together enough for him to touch her near her chest but it still made her purse her lips together as his fingers brushed her skin. A sly smile crossed his lips as he finished pinning it into place.
The dress was a hunter green sack back gown that made her red hair stand out. She looked like the epitome of Christmas, all red and green. Isabelle smoothed down the dress and pulled her sleeves down to cover her elbows.
"Now, for your outfit," she said turning to the Doctor.
"Uh, yeah," he said moving towards the bed. He started to get undressed.
"I'll be in the bathroom doing my hair," she said turning away from him.
"All right," he said.
In the bathroom, she brushed out her long red hair as she looked at the dress in the mirror. There was a sketch of an 18th century hair style taped to the side of the mirror. She pinned most of her hair up in an elegant coiffure with a few long tendrils hanging down and over the front of her shoulder. Isabelle decided to use very little makeup but enough to satisfy the time period. She inspected her appearance one last time before seeing how the Doctor was fairing with his clothes.
When she came out, he had on his shirt, stockings, dark blue breeches, and was sitting on the edge of the bed buckling the leather garters just under his knees.
"You look like you've done that before," she mentioned.
"I may have been to the American Revolution before but a bit later in time," he said fastening the last garter around his left calf.
The Doctor sat up to see her standing there in all her splendor. He blinked.
"What do you think?" she asked and turned about.
"I, er, that is, er, I," he stammered as he stood up. His voice was soft when he finally found his words. "You. Look at you. You're beautiful. No, more than that. You're gorgeous. You sure you haven't done this before?"
"I can honestly say that I have not, but I think I'm getting the hang of dressing the part," she replied with a bit of color tingeing her cheeks.
Each of them grinned at the other but not much was said. His gaze read how astonished he was of her beauty and her effortless adaptability to any of the time periods they had visited. Her face read how she loved the way he looked at her.
"Let's finish getting you dress, yeah?" she said.
Regretfully, he turned away to grab his waistcoat. His coat was dark blue, as well, matching the breeches and waistcoat. The trim was made from golden thread and shimmered in the light. Isabelle had even included a dark brown, almost black, wig with black tape wound around the pigtail. Of course, there was a tricorn hat as well. Once they fitted everything in place, it was her turn to gawk.
"Well?" he asked simply and with uncertainty.
"You look very handsome," she muttered. His facial features softened seeing how she looked at him in awe. "For an alien." They both smiled.
"Should we go see what awaits us?" he asked cheerfully.
"Allons-y," she said giving her head a bit of shake to free her from her thoughts.
"It's French for 'let's go,'" she informed him. He seemed impressed.
"Milady," he said as he offered his elbow. She tucked her arm through his as they left her room and the TARDIS.
A thick layer of snow lay on the ground in the Boston streets. The leather shoes protected them against the wetness but not the cold. In a matter of minutes of strolling down the street, Isabelle's toes were numb. The Doctor held out his sonic screwdriver and gave it a buzz.
"Anything?" Isabelle asked. He turned in a circle beside her.
"This way," he said leading her forward. Her eyes lit up with excitement.
Not much farther along the street, carriages were lined up outside a two story brick house.
"Looks like someone is having a Christmas party," the Doctor said as they drew closer to the establishment.
"Should we crash it?" Isabelle asked slyly with a wicked smirk. The Doctor waved the sonic screwdriver in front of him.
"Yup," he said returning the grin.
"Do you have our invitation?"
"Never leave home without it," he said holding up the leather wallet that held the psychic paper.
Isabelle laughed loudly as they made their way to the gate. It was open to allow the guests in. They made their way to the door and showed their invitation to the doorman.
"The Doctor and Lady Isabelle Darling, Lord and Lady of Tardisford," the doorman announced as they proceeded inward. Isabelle couldn't help to snicker.
"Good evening, Doctor," a middle aged man said wearing a burgundy brocade outfit with silver trim. "You're introduction caught me by surprise. First, do you not have a first name? And secondly, I've never heard of Tardisford. Care to explain?"
"I have a first name but everyone just calls me the Doctor. Tardisford is in Scotland. A small island off the shores of Skye," he explained.
"A Highlander. We hope to have your support in our war efforts," the man said. Isabelle looked at him oddly. "Forgive me. I have forgotten to introduce myself to your Lady."
"Not at all," the Doctor said.
"Lady Isabelle, is it? I am General Henry Clinton. It is a pleasure and delight to make your acquaintance," the General addressed as he took up her hand to place a kiss on the back of it. "As well as yours, Doctor," the General added with a tip of his head in his direction.
"Please to meet you, General," Isabelle said with a deep curtsy as the General still held her hand offering her support as she did so.
"Were you a part of the previous war, Doctor?" the General addressed the Doctor again.
"I assisted, yes," the Doctor replied. Isabelle raised an eyebrow. Perhaps there would be a story later on as explanation.
"Did you assist in a medical capacity or a military one?" Clinton questioned.
"Military," the Doctor answered as he looked around the room other than at the General.
"Which Highland regiment did you serve under?" the General asked.
"Seventy-first," he answered shortly. The Doctor avoided eye contact with the General still scanning the room for abnormalities in the guests behaviour.
"If you will excuse us, General. It is dreadfully cold outside and I am still suffering from a chill," Isabelle interjected.
"Oh, my word, yes. Please, warm yourselves by the fire. I will see to my other guests and perhaps we shall converse later this evening, Doctor," General Clinton said and left to see to his guests.
"Thank you," the Doctor muttered to Isabelle as he took her by the elbow leading her to the fireplace.
"You're welcome. I know when you start saying one word answers you are distracted with other things," Isabelle divulged.
"And you would be right," he said, "Nice cover, by the way. Although, I'm not really cold."
"My toes are, but I'm otherwise fine," she admitted as they stood in front of the fireplace.
"Now, I just have to figure out why we're here," the Doctor said as he glanced around the room at the other guests. "There must be a shape-shifter here because there are no obvious looking aliens here."
"Obviously," Isabelle returned. "Why here? It's just a party."
"I've been to parties crashed by the most vicious aliens. It's not unlikely," the Doctor told her.
"Right, I'm going to check upstairs," Isabelle submitted as she grabbed a glass of wine and set off.
"I'm coming with you," the Doctor mentioned as he followed her out into the hall.
Isabelle was already on the stairs when she turned around and told him, "No, you're not. You are staying down here to mingle. Talk to people, just casual conversation, nothing to in-depth. Find out who doesn't sound like they belong here. Keep the sonic screwdriver away. I won't be long."
"When did you start giving the orders?" he asked her with a smirk.
"When you started letting me," she said with a wink. She turned and ascended the stairs.
The Doctor watched her go up the stairs then returned to the drawing room. He went to get a drink and found mulled wine. Looking around the room, he scrutinized everyone in it. When his eyes fell on a young woman staring at him. He looked away back towards the other guests. He glanced back to see if she was still staring and found that she was. She began to walk towards him. He took a sip of the wine and watched her.
"I could not help but notice that your Lady has left you alone. My betrothed has left me as well to talk war tactics with the General. My I ask of your name, sir?" she began.
"Most people just call me the Doctor," he answered still scanning the room with his eyes.
"Ah, a man of medicine?" she questioned.
"A man of many things," he answered. "And you would be?"
"Charlotte," she answered.
"Nice to meet you, Charlotte," he said and took another sip of wine. Then looked towards the doorway.
"You seem preoccupied, Doctor. I'm sorry if I am disturbing you," Charlotte said. The Doctor turned to look at her as she was about to turn away from him.
"I'm sorry," he apologised, "Please stay and chat."
"I am grateful for the company," she returned. "What occupies your mind, Doctor?"
"It is matters beyond your understanding," he expressed.
"You would be surprised as to what I comprehend, Doctor. My betrothed talks of the rebellion happening in these colonies and what vexes him to no end that I have often assisted in settling his internal disputes before he ever reports back to the General. You might say I have a hand in this war. Now, tell me, what troubles you?"
The Doctor considered her for a moment. Then, he said, "In actuality, I am concerned about my lady friend."
"Ah, sweetheart issues," she said with coy smile.
"Although our invitation says we are together, we are technically friends," he admitted.
"Oh, my. Does she not have feelings for you or too many that you do not reciprocate?" Charlotte questioned.
"I know she has feelings for me. I just don't know how to express mine to her."
"And what are those feelings, Doctor?"
"I think I love her," the Doctor confessed.
"Do you wish to marry her?"
"I'm not sure we can," he returned looking startled and shaking his head.
"But if you could, you would?" Charlotte sought his face for an answer. His expression eased into one of dreamy contemplation.
"In an instant," he softly said looking down at his wine.
"What thwarts your union?"
"I'm afraid she won't yes because we're not from the same . . . land," he tried to explain carefully. "Although, in my family, there is history of our two lands conjoining."
"Just tell her your intentions, Doctor. If she truly returns your affection, she will put aside her heritage in favor of love. If she does not, in the very least you told her your honest disposition. I hope for your sake, that she returns the fondness I see in your eyes. When you speak of her, you positively glow, Doctor. I should only wish my betrothed shined as half as bright as you when referring to me."
In the meanwhile, Isabelle was exploring the rooms on the second floor only finding bedrooms. She was just about to search the other rooms on the east side of the house when she passed in front of the double doors leading out to the upper balcony. She stopped to look at the view across the commons.
"Would you look at that view? It's remarkable!" she exclaimed quietly to herself. Or so she thought.
"You should have seen it in June where it was a sea of canvas and men, milady," a timid gentlemanly voice said to her right. Isabelle turned to see a plain dressed man standing there with a bucket of ash.
"Is that right?" she said taking a sip of wine.
"Yes, milady. There were soldiers camped there and then battled later that month over in Charlestown."
"I'm sure that was a sight to see."
"It was," he said and turned to leave her.
"May I ask who you are, sir?"
"My name is Thomas Baddeley, milady."
"Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Baddeley. I'm Lady Isabelle."
"You came with the Doctor with no name, correct?"
"Yes, I did," she said taking another sip of wine. She smiled sweetly at the thought of him.
"You must be close to him then?"
"I am, very. I would do anything for him," she said staring off into the distance across the commons, "Even die for him."
"Would you?" Mr. Baddeley said with an odd sort of quietness. Isabelle seemed too wrapped up in her thoughts to hear him. A burst of laughter from downstairs snapped her out of her contemplation.
"What do you do for the General, Mr. Baddeley?"
"I help my wife care for the house as well as carpentry, milady."
"I must commend you and your wife for keeping such an exceptional home. I'm sure the General is very pleased with your work."
"I should like to think so, milady. Which reminds me, I should return to my duties."
"Stay. Enjoy the view with me for a moment longer. One more minute shant hurt you."
"As you wish, milady." The two of them looked out the doors at the snow covered grounds. Unbeknownst to Isabelle, Mr. Baddeley took a step back keeping a keen eye on her. In his hand, he stretched out a handkerchief.
"The snow over the commons is quite lovely and untouched by man or beast."
"Aye," Mr. Baddeley said darkly. He twisted one end of the handkerchief around his right hand.
"Mr. Baddeley! What are you doing chatting with the guests?" a woman spoke from behind them. Isabelle and Mr. Baddeley turned on the spot. Isabelle was shocked to see that Mr. Baddeley had been right behind her when she thought a moment ago he was beside her. Mr. Baddeley relinquished his grip on his handkerchief and stuck it in his pocket.
"Uh, sorry, my love," he uttered as he took a step away from both women.
"Do not be cross with him, Mrs. Baddeley. It is my fault. I asked him to stay and converse with me," Isabelle asserted. Mrs. Baddeley eyed her husband and sighed.
"Very well, milady," she accepted with a curtsy. "We must return to our duties, milady. Good evening."
"Good evening, Mrs. Baddeley," Isabelle replied.
Mr. and Mrs. Baddeley went into a room that appeared to be a study. Isabelle could hear their exchange of words despite their efforts to keep their conversation quiet.
"If the General had discovered you speaking with his guests, he would have us put out," Mrs. Baddeley said.
"No. He would have me put out. I see how he looks at you. He would never put you out," Mr. Baddeley returned with fervor.
"He only favors me because I treat him with dignity and respect of his station," she explained. "I'll finish stoking the fires up here. You go down into the kitchens to help with dinner."
"Of course, dear," he said scornfully and left to return downstairs.
Isabelle waited until Mrs. Baddeley had come out of the study before investigating` it for any clues to any alien activity. In the study she found the writing desk full of correspondence to the General, most of it pertaining to the war. She was careful to return the piles of letters to their original location before perusing the next pile. One letter still remained open upon the desk. Taking a drink of wine, she set the glass beside the letter as she read it.
"What are you doing?" Mrs. Baddeley's voice sounded behind. The woman reached for the letter but accidently upset the glass of wine spilling its contents over the letter. "Oh, dear Lord! The General will have my head for this!"
"Here, give me your apron," Isabelle said quickly. Mrs. Baddeley untied her apron and handed it over to Isabelle. She daubed up the spill with it then examined the letter. "I'll have to rewrite it. It's already fading. You go replace your apron and finish with dinner. I'll take care of this."
"Yes, milady," Mrs. Baddeley said warily.
"What's your first name, Mrs. Baddeley?" Isabelle inquired.
"Mary," she answered softly.
"Mary, it was only an accident," Isabelle said.
"What accident?" the General said from the doorway. The two women turned abruptly at the sound of his voice. Mary's face went ashen.
"I ruined one of your letters, sir," Mary admitted before Isabelle could cover for her.
The General made his way over to the desk to view the scene. His eyes burned with fire.
"Mar..., Mrs. Baddeley, please return to the kitchens this instant to see about dinner," the General fumed. She immediately left in a wave of gentle sobs.
"As for you, Lady Isabelle, I'm not sure why you are in my study, but I assure you there is nothing of interest in here for you," the General said with calmed irritation.
"On the contrary, General. I was perusing your books. I merely set my drink on your writing desk to free my hands to look through a few titles. I believe Mrs. Baddeley was only trying to remove the drink knowing the importance of your documents more so than I but upon taking up the glass, accidently knocked it over."
"I suppose you are correct, seeing as you are the only witness to the crime," the General stated.
"A little spilled wine is hardly a crime, General," Isabelle tried to appease.
"It's not the first letter that I have lost, Lady Isabelle," the General said gravely. "As much as I try to keep them organized, a few have gone missing that had vital information in them."
"Oh, do you think someone is stealing them?" Isabelle inquired.
"I am not sure. I think there is a traitor within my household or someone else who has found their way into my study on more than one occasion," the General said looking intently at her.
At that moment, Mary returned with her head bowed.
"Dinner is served, sir," she stated.
"Thank you, Mary," he said cordially. Mary looked up at him upon hearing her familiar name. When he saw her movement, he realized his mistake. "My apologies, Mrs. Baddeley." She curtsied and left the room. "After you, Lady Isabelle."
They both went down to the dining room.